Certainly not, most Americans would say, but some are not so sure:
“In much of the developed world, one uses racial epithets at one’s legal peril, one displays Nazi regalia and the other trappings of ethnic hatred at significant legal risk, and one urges discrimination against religious minorities under threat of fine or imprisonment,” Frederick Schauer, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, wrote in a recent essay called “The Exceptional First Amendment.”
“But in the United States,” Professor Schauer continued, “all such speech remains constitutionally protected.”
Canada, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, South Africa, Australia and India all have laws or have signed international conventions banning hate speech. Israel and France forbid the sale of Nazi items like swastikas and flags. It is a crime to deny the Holocaust in Canada, Germany and France. . .
Some prominent legal scholars say the United States should reconsider its position on hate speech.
“It is not clear to me that the Europeans are mistaken,” Jeremy Waldron, a legal philosopher, wrote in The New York Review of Books last month, “when they say that a liberal democracy must take affirmative responsibility for protecting the atmosphere of mutual respect against certain forms of vicious attack.”
The article is pretty good, and it reminds us all why we turned our back on Europe in 1776. It’s certainly disturbing, though, that the New York Times would lend its (rapidly declining) respectability to the idea that we should limit free speech. The book review in which the NYT lent its pages to support censorship is here (membership required).
ASIDE: Remember that the NYT recently editorialized against academic freedom.